Social Security benefits are for people who have worked and have paid Social Security taxes. If you have never paid Social Security taxes, but you are married to an individual who has done so, you may also be eligible to receive these benefits based on your spouse's work history. You cannot receive most Social Security benefits if you have never worked nor married. However, you may be able to receive Supplemental Security Income benefits.
Social Security Benefits
Depending on your physical condition and age, you may be eligible to receive Social Security benefits such as disability benefits or retirement benefits. However, most of these benefits require you or your spouse to have worked and paid Social Security tax. The only program of benefits provided by the Social Security Administration that does not require Social Security tax payments is known as Supplemental Security Income.
Supplemental Security Income
The Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, is a program that pays benefits to people who are older than 65 years of age, blind or disabled and who have no income or low income. Unlike other Social Security benefits, these benefits are not paid based on your past earnings and Social Security tax payments. The funds for this program come from general tax revenue, and you can claim them as long as you meet all other requirements for eligibility.
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Eligibility for SSI
Although you are not required to pay Social Security tax, you are required to show that you have low income and few resources to qualify for SSI benefits. Countable resources are the things you own, such as bank accounts, stocks, bonds and any real estate other than your primary residence. If you are married, your resources cannot exceed $3,000, and if you are single, your resources cannot exceed $2,000. You must be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident to be eligible for these benefits.
In some cases you might be eligible to receive other Social Security benefits even if you have never worked or married. This can happen if you are the child of a disabled or deceased worker who paid Social Security tax and who was entitled to receive Social Security benefits. To receive Social Security benefits other than SSI, as a child, you must be younger than 18 and unmarried, or you must be between age 18 and 19 and a full-time student. If you are older than 18 and you have a disability that started before age 22, you may also receive Social Security benefits based on your parents' work histories, even if you have never worked or married.